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Belonging in Opera

Mar 6 - Apr 29, 2023
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Opera is shaped by many voices — from the composer and librettist who create a story to the singers who bring those stories to life onstage. How do these artists’ lived experiences impact their work? And how does your own perspective shape your experience as a member of the audience?

In 2021, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis began an exploration of race and opera in partnership with Washington University’s Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity & Equity and Department of Music. Now in its second year, this new series explores how perspective shapes and influences opera. Every artist brings new vibrancy to this art form, keeping it as relevant today as it was centuries ago. Join us as we engage with singers, composers, and scholars to explore how race has shaped and continues to animate the operatic genre.

Event information

Monday, March 6
What Do Rock ‘n Roll, Opera, and the Supreme Court Have in Common?

Thursday, March 9
Meet the Makers, An Insider’s Look at OTSL’s New Works Collective

Saturday, March 11
Artwork & Arias

Saturday, April 29
Discovery Tour: Scott Joplin, From Ragtime to Opera

Monday, March 6: What Do Rock ‘n Roll, Opera, and the Supreme Court Have in Common?

Saint Louis University School of Law, 100 North Tucker 
4:00 p.m.
Free registration

Presented by Saint Louis University School of Law, Volunteer Lawyers & Accountants for the Arts (VLAA), and Opera Theatre

Join musician and activist Simon Tam, attorney Mark Sabelman of Thompson Coburn, and VLAA Board President Matt Minder of Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner for a conversation about the legal journey of Simon’s band, The Slants. This Asian American dance rock band took a fight for the right to trademark their band name all the way to the Supreme Court, sparking a powerful story about free speech – a story that is now the focus of a world premiere opera in St. Louis. Find more information on VLAA’s event page.

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Thursday, March 9: Meet the Makers, An Insider’s Look at OTSL’s New Works Collective

Washington University’s 560 Music Center
7:30 p.m.
Free registration

Co-presented by Opera Theatre, Washington University’s CRE2 and Department of Music

Last winter, more than 130 artists applied to create new operas with OTSL. Ultimately, just three multi-genre teams were selected by a panel of St. Louis artists, advocates, and community leaders. Meet the artists who are pushing the boundaries of opera, hear musical excerpts from their works, and learn more from acclaimed scholars at Washington University about the context surrounding each story. 

Moderated by Professor Adrienne Davis, featuring artists Tre’von Griffith, Joe X. Jiang, Simon Tam, and Del’Shawn Taylor, and faculty members Professor M. Marlon Bailey and Post-Doctoral Fellow Dr. Ashley Dennis. 

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Saturday, March 11: Artwork & Arias

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (CAM)
7:00 p.m.
Free registration

Presented by CAM and Opera Theatre with support from Washington University’s CRE2

Experience artistic forms of ball culture and performance through this free interdisciplinary event that brings together opera and the visual arts. The evening is presented on the opening weekend of Jacolby Satterwhite’s exhibition Spirits Roaming on the Earth at CAM, and provides musical excerpts from Tre’von Griffith’s opera Madison Lodge, commissioned as part of OTSL’s New Works Collective, as well as presentations from members of the St. Louis ball community hosted by the legendary Meko Lee Burr.  Both Satterwhite and Griffith draw inspiration from the history and community created through ball culture. 

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Saturday, April 29: Discovery Tour: Scott Joplin, From Ragtime to Opera 

Missouri History Museum
9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
$80 MHS members | $90 non-members

Presented by Missouri Historical Society

Inspired by OTSL’s reimagined version of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, historian Vann Ford will lead this exploration of St. Louis ragtime with a selection of performances and stops at the Scott Joplin House and other significant sites. The rate includes tour guide; motor coach transportation; all venue admissions, taxes, and gratuities; and refreshments (lunch, refillable water bottle, and snack).

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